Gerrard Cowan says he almost fell out of his seat when he heard that his debut novel was to be published.
The Derry man’s first book, ‘The Machinery’, will be published by HarperVoyager UK (the fantasy and sci-fi imprint of HarperCollins) in e-format this month.
The first of a planned trilogy, ‘The Machinery’ is, says Gerrard, something he began thinking about back in 2008.
“I thought it would be interesting to make the actual system of government a central part of the tale,” he says.
“So, instead of a king or queen being born to rule because of their blood, in this world, the rulers are picked by something called the Machinery.
“It’s brought them great success, but there’s one problem - there’s a prophecy that the Machinery will break in the 10,000th year - and that time has now come.”
It’s no surprise that Gerrard chose the fantasy genre for his debut novel as it’s a brand he’s loved since he was a kid.
“When I was young, I could often be found leafing through fantasy and sci-fi books in the library in Foyle Street.
“I’d always wanted to try to write one myself but could never seem to get into the routine of it and never really had an idea that had legs.”
That was until ‘The Machinery’ occurred to him.
Gerrard - whose married to Sarah and has two young kids - says it took him ages to get going on the book.
“It wasn’t really until 2010 that I got into a proper routine,” he admits.
“I used to get up an hour early and do a bit before work. After two years, I had the original draft finished, just before my wedding day to Sarah!”
Gerrard reveals that he initially sent it off to a few different agents “without much luck”.
“Then, I heard that HarperVoyager were opening up their doors to writers without agents for a two week period in October 2012 - usually the big publishers only take submissions from agents.
“They ended up getting more than 5,000 entries, so I didn’t expect anything from it really.
“But time went by and I hadn’t got a rejection e-mail, so I started to wonder if it might actually happen. Then, in February 2014, I got an email from an editor saying they wanted to publish my book. I almost fell out of my seat.”
In all, there are fourteen other books being published by HarperVoyager UK from the same programme.
Gerrard, who grew up in Gleneagles on the Culmore Road, is the son of Marie (retired founding principal of Oakgrove College) and Ronnie Cowan (former head of department at North West Regional College).
Educated at St Eugene’s PS and Oakgrove College, Gerrard says both schools encouraged him in his love of writing.
He now lives in London with wife Sarah, two year old son, Finn, and two-month-old daughter, Evie.
After graduating from Trinity College in Dublin, he moved back to Derry for a year and, then, relocated to London where he continued his studies.
He then worked as a reporter for Jane’s Information Group, a defence publisher, and, since 2011, has worked for the ‘Wall Street Journal’ as news editor.
At the moment, he edits the business section of the European edition.
“I’d love to keep writing books in the future,” he says.
“I’ve got two more coming out in this series - the next one, ‘The Strategist’, should be out in the middle of 2016. After that, who knows - I’ll try to come up with more ideas.”
‘The Machinery’ will be out in e-format this month but will be published in paperback in March of next year.
For more info on Gerrard, check out gerrardcowan.com, on Twitter @GerrardCowan and on facebook.com/gerrardcowanauthor